A few months ago, I tried to make a healthier version of Fettuccini Alfredo at my sister's request. I used pureed cottage cheese, a technique that I found in the Moosewood Lowfat Favorites cookbook. I thought the pasta was nice, and the cottage cheese was a great substitute. However, after my success with whipped cauliflower, I thought I might try using that as the base for a newer, lighter alfredo. It doesn't pack the same protein punch, but I liked the flavor a bit more.
Now I do realize that this dish is a bit out there, and pureed cauliflower might turn some people off, but luckily flavor of the parmesan really overpowers the cauliflower, so it's hard to tell the cauliflower is even in there.
To round out the dish, I found a can of artichokes in the pantry, so thought I'd add them. Then I was going to prepare a spinach salad, but thought I might just wilt the spinach and add it to the dish to make the ever popular spinach and artichoke combo!
Spinach and Artichoke Penne with Faux Alfredo
1/2 lb. whole wheat penne
1/2 head of cauliflower florets
2 c. vegetable stock
1 lb. fresh, baby spinach
1/4 -1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 15 oz. can of quartered artichoke hearts
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flake
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and add pasta.
Cook for 10 minutes, or until al dente, drain.
Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a small pot, add cauliflower, cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until soft.
In a large saute' pan, wilt spinach leaves over medium heat. Drain and set aside.
Add cauliflower to a blender or food processor with most of the parmesan cheese, add 1/4 c. of milk and any remaining vegetable stock. Puree. Add more milk if necessary, season with salt and pepper.
Add pasta, artichokes, cauliflower puree, and spinach to the pasta pot.
Turn over low heat and bring to temperature.
Plate and top with remaining parmesan and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.